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Nat Commun. 2017 May 24;8:15526. doi: 10.1038/ncomms15526.

A synthetic biochemistry platform for cell free production of monoterpenes from glucose.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, UCLA-DOE Institute, Molecular Biology Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095-1570, USA.


Cell-free systems designed to perform complex chemical conversions of biomass to biofuels or commodity chemicals are emerging as promising alternatives to the metabolic engineering of living cells. Here we design a system comprises 27 enzymes for the conversion of glucose into monoterpenes that generates both NAD(P)H and ATP in a modified glucose breakdown module and utilizes both cofactors for building terpenes. Different monoterpenes are produced in our system by changing the terpene synthase enzyme. The system is stable for the production of limonene, pinene and sabinene, and can operate continuously for at least 5 days from a single addition of glucose. We obtain conversion yields >95% and titres >15 g l-1. The titres are an order of magnitude over cellular toxicity limits and thus difficult to achieve using cell-based systems. Overall, these results highlight the potential of synthetic biochemistry approaches for producing bio-based chemicals.

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